Destroying Your Child To Save a Buck

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May 26, my article, “Whining
,” was published on this website. The article reproduced
published statements on a website regarding parents’ disgust with
the “one test and you pass” policy of the Gwinnett County, Georgia
middle schools. The parents all reported that they fought with their
children about doing their homework, when it was obvious that their
children were rational. The kids knew they would pass the exam without
doing their homework. So, why do homework?

posted statements indicated that these battles had already taken
place, and the kids had won. The parents expressed frustration that
they could not persuade their children of what was clearly parental
nonsense, given the system of school sanctions, namely, that “extra
credit” which did not count — homework — was worth doing. It was
clear that the parents knew the school’s system of sanctions was
undermining their children’s commitment to hard work. Yet all they
did was to argue with their children to ignore the sanctions.

point was this: the parents were not ignoring the education system’s
sanctions, namely, to tax parents and then offer “free” education
for their children. The parents bit — hook, line, and stinker.
The parents were no more willing to pull their kids out of the public
schools, despite the morally corrosive effect of the schools’ academic
sanctions, than their children were willing to do homework that
would not count.

also fully understand that I have about as much chance of persuading
them to ignore the local school system’s sanctions and pull their
kids out of the schools as they had of persuading their children
to do homework.

was clear was this: those parents had sent their children into a
bureaucratic, socialistic, taxpayer-funded nut house. The nut house’s
policies were visibly eroding their children’s sense of an obligation
to work hard. Yet only one parent planned to pull her child out
of the nut house. Who, then, were truly immoral: the administrators
or the parents?

bureaucrats were acting as socialistic bureaucrats are paid to act:
to feather their own nests, to work less for the pay they were getting.
They were teaching the children this principle. The children were
taking to it like ducks take to water — or parents take to free
tuition. The educators in Gwinnett County are acting in a self-interested
way — just as economics teaches that all people do. So were their
students. Yet the parents expressed dismay.

dismay is cheap. Private school tuition isn’t. The parents did not
pull their kids out. They knew that the system was corrupting their
children, yet they refused to take action to protect their children.

is why the tax-funded schools have been winning the war on the typical
family. The parents have been bought off.


6:22 a.m., I had a letter in my email box from a defender of these
parents. This, you understand, comes from a woman who reads LRC
early in the morning. This is not from some run-of-the-mill defender
of the public schools. The letter begins with the right of parents
to complain.

think you are being a little harsh towards parents. Parents pay
taxes to support their local school system, so they have the right
to complain if the schools are doing stupid things that hinder
their childs learning.

am convinced that if there were tax-funded prostitution-training
for pre-teens to which the state required compulsory attendance,
there would be defenders who would write a letter saying that parents
have every right to complain about these vocational schools, as
taxpayers — after their kids had graduated from the middle-school-dalliance
program and had moved on to the big time. Give the kid an A, and
some parents would paste on a bumper sticker: “My child is an honor
student at Whoopie for Cash Middle School.”

taxpayer has the right to complain about the tax-funded schools.
Every parent has the moral obligation to complain. But this legal
right to complain is a separate issue from the utter stupidity of
these parents in battling with their children for a year in a vain
attempt to persuade them not to go along with the program from inside
the system.

seriously am I supposed to take a lot of on-line whining by parents
who did not have the moral vision to pull their children out of
a system that the parents now say corrupted their children, and
who are now happy to send them into the tax-funded high schools?
“Are we glad that’s over with!” they are saying. Well, it isn’t
over with. It is just beginning. They will now send their kids into
the world’s premier mind-altering
drug emporium
, a place where girls don’t even get cash for whoopie.
If they are lucky, they will get a corsage.

letter continues:

parents cannot afford to pay the high tuition for a private school.
In most families, both parents work, so homeschooling is not a
workable option. The parents you quoted seem to be the ones who
are involved in their childrens education. I don’t blame them
for “whining”. Maybe you can give them ideas what they can do
that is proactive, rather than come down on them for whining.

see. Because they have monthly car payments for cars they bought
new, plus mortgage payments, plus a home full of furniture to pay
for, they must now find a way to pay for all this. And the way they
universally agreed on was to put their children at moral risk. “Let
the kids pay for our goodies!” This woman read my article, presumably
understands it, and now tells me that the parents of America have
made a rational cost-benefit analysis: they live high on the hog,
and their children can and should pay the price.

parents work. So, no home schooling is possible. But why do both
parents work? To buy the things they want to buy. The question is:
Who pays? The answer is: their children. And the parents prefer
it this way. So does the letter-writer. There are tens of millions
of parents who agree, which is why the public school system persists.

you can give them ideas what they can do that is proactive, rather
than come down on them for whining.” All right, here is my pro-active
list. It rests on this principle: Find a way to pay for your
own expenses without requiring your kids to pay by attending the
local academic cesspool. If you cannot afford this, then cut
back on your expenses. Do the following:

used cars, not new ones. I have written how to do

smart. Use the Web. Shop at Dollar General-type stores, which
are among the fastest-growing retail chains in America.

Buy luxury items, used, at pawn shops for 70% off.

your home and rent in a cheaper neighborhood. Use the money for
your kids’ education.

quits working. She buys the Robinson Curriculum for $200, once, and
home schools her children.

balance the family budget:

takes a second job or starts a weekend business. No more TV.

works with Dad in the home business.

kids do, too, or else they take after-school jobs to help pay
for their expenses.

Robinson’s kids worked from 8 until noon on their studies, six days
a week. Then they helped him run their sheep ranch. Each child had
a specific responsibility. Some of them worked with him in his biological
research institute: The Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine.
One of them built their metal research building — the same
one who later earned a Ph.D. at CalTech in chemistry after scoring
800, 800, and 770 on the Graduate Record Exam. They put together
the Robinson Curriculum as a family project. I estimate that they
have sold over 30,000 sets at $200 per set. Do the math. Or ask
your child to do the math.

this pro-active enough?


letter continues:

that it will work, anyways. Our public schools will do whatever
they want, because of the agenda of the globalists. It would probably
take a massive boycott of public schools, with most parents pulling
their kids out until they see some sensible changes. hey! thats
an idea!

see. So, if your kids are sent into a tax-funded prostitution training
program, you should wait until somebody organizes a massive national
boycott of the program. Until then, it’s your job to argue with
your kid about how much homework to do.

is the logic of collectivism. It makes morality a matter of collective
decision-making. Until there is consensus, we are told, the individual
ought to continue to do what others are doing, especially if it
costs extra money to do things differently.

woman really does reflect the present state of conservative political
opinion. She reflects the attitude of most parents.

is why I have gotten into trouble with parents over the years by
arguing that their children should not be enrolled in the compulsory
school system, that there are ways out of the trap. That is what
it is, and why I hired private school owner Robert Thoburn two decades
ago to write The Children Trap, which I have posted for free on-line. But I get little agreement. So, there is no massive
boycott by conservatives or anyone else.

family by family, there are individual boycotts. These are not organized.
There is no national plan. There are merely individual decisions
by parents, family by family. Parents conclude that it is time to
stop whining. It is time to pull their children out. They are responsible
for their children. They are not responsible for anyone else’s children.
They do not imagine that the opinion of other parents regarding
the public schools has any bearing on their moral decision. Most
important, they really do regard it as a moral decision.


your children are at risk, you must take evasive action, even if
it means shopping at Dollar General.

27, 2005

North [send him mail] is the
author of Mises
on Money
. Visit
He is also the author of a free multi-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible

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